If you engage in intense exercise, you’ve likely experienced muscle soreness. While it may be tempting to be active on your rest days, passive recovery can also help reduce muscle pain and promote healing.
What is Passive Recovery?
Passive recovery involves complete rest and avoidance of strenuous activity that would further strain the muscles. It gives the muscles time to fully recover without additional stress or strain placed on them.
Some examples of passive recovery techniques include:
- Rest days between workouts
- Low-intensity activities like walking
- Recovery modalities like cryotherapy, compression, or electrolytes
Benefits of Passive Recovery
Here are some of the main benefits of incorporating passive rest and recovery:
- Allows Muscles to Fully Heal – Without the stress of exercise, the muscles can focus entirely on repairing damaged tissue and regenerating muscle fibers. This helps strengthen and rebuild the muscles.
- Reduces Inflammation – Staying off your feet and giving muscles a break reduces local inflammation from exercise-induced muscle damage. This can decrease muscle soreness.
- Replenishes Energy Stores – The muscles require energy to repair and grow. Passive rest allows the body to restore depleted glycogen energy stores.
- Decreases Stress Hormones – Exercise triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Passive recovery gives the body a chance to return to a more balanced state.
- Supports the Immune System – Complete rest gives the immune system an opportunity to function optimally and clear out damaged proteins and cells.
- Allows Tendons and Ligaments to Recover – Overuse can cause joint inflammation. Passive recovery gives connective tissues time to adapt and get stronger.
- Mental Recovery – Passive rest also aids in mental recovery from the toll of hard training by reducing mental fatigue.
Overall, making time for passive recovery is just as important as the intense training stimulus itself. Scheduling rest days and listening to your body helps prevent overtraining, burnout, and injury. Adequate passive recovery allows the body to fully regenerate so you can continue to progress in your workouts and achieve your fitness goals.